Thursday, November 15, 2018

NaNo Halfway Mark, FOMO and Why I Don't Join In

Today is November 15, which is the halfway point of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Who's participating???

(In case you've stumbled across this blog and have no idea what NaNo is - the basic premise is that you write 50K of your novel in a month. 50K isn't necessarily a full novel, but it's usually a really solid start and decent length for a first draft.)

If you are participating, in theory you're halfway through your novel. You've outlined it, of course, and this may be the time when it's veering from the outline and you're not sure where the story's going all of a sudden. If you're in the US, Thanksgiving next week looms large and even if you just plan on getting a turkey sandwich from Subway, you've still got Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday to distract you. 

In other words, unless you're committed, this is when you falter.

Which is one of the reasons why I don't participate.

For me, starting NaNo at the beginning of November is never the problem. It's keeping going through the end of the moth - through Thanksgiving and the start of Christmas preparation. Stockpiling those words in anticipation of days off never seems to happen and then suddenly it's the Sunday after Thanksgiving and I'm 6K behind. 

And about that daily word count goal. To reach 50K words in November, participants need to write 1667 words per day. That's about 6 pages, give or take. Not a lot. Not even a whole chapter in most cases. But Every. Single. Day.

Which is reason #2 I don't participate.

I normally don't write on the weekends. Could I do it for a month? Sure. But do I want to? That's the harder question and, based on the times I tried to NaNo in the past, the answer was a resounding no. I tried to stockpile words during the week but it seemed like the more I stressed about making my word count goal, the less the words would flow.

Which is reason #3 - and the biggest reason - I don't participate.

For me, having a daily word count goal works the exact opposite way it's supposed to. I look at the number of words I'm "supposed to" write and...I freeze. I'm lucky if I get 1/10th of those words in. And they're not good words. They're words to get something down on the page. Writing my last book I discovered sprints and THAT was magic for me. But daily word count goals, not so much.

That's not to say I don't look at the communities on social media talking about NaNo and not feel like I'm missing out. I do! I am! There are many amazing people who do NaNo every year and the peer cheerleading is so supportive. The FOMO is real! 

But I've also been writing long enough that I have a pretty good idea of what works for me and what doesn't. For me, NaNo is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. If this is your first NaNo and you're feeling that way, too, don't despair. It could be that you're not a NaNo type of person. But - and this is an important but - it doesn't make you any less of a writer. Not one little bit.


Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

I don't do NaNo anymore either. I never finished. I got stuck and then I was just vomiting words onto a page without any idea of what I was doing. It doesn't work for me. It seems so fun, so communal, but it's just not for me. I totally get it.

Carrie Beckort said...

I'm with you too. I've never tried it, and while a part of me wishes that I could do it, I know I would just stress out about it the entire time and the words I'd put down would likely be crap. Kudos to all those who can make NaNo work for them though!

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